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Radio AM to FM: July 18, 2003

NAB, Media Groups get Bashed

In what appears to be a major example of being careful of what you wish for, the National Association of Broadcasters and the major media groups are fast becoming targets due to their push over the past few years for relaxed FCC ownership rules.

Sure, they got what they wanted last month: new rules from the FCC that allow cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations as well as in increase in the number of television and radio holdings in certain markets.

What the media groups didn't count on was a huge backlash on the part of the public that is culminating in possible ways to not only reverse the FCC rules, but to perhaps make them even more restrictive than before.

This week a bipartisan effort was launched in the United States Senate to veto the rules under a resolution that allows Congress to veto rules made by a federal agency if they believe a significant error was made in making those rules. The resolution is rarely used, but thousands of telephone calls, letters and e-mails to members of Congress from the public has made the Senate willing to look into it.

So far 35 Senators have signed a petition supporting the bill, which was introduced by Republican Trent Lott and Democrats Byron Dorgan and Russ Feingold on Tuesday.

"This is not a procedure that I do lightly," Lott said at a press conference announcing the resolution. "I think this is a very important issue."

At the same time, news coverage of the new FCC rules seems to be galvanizing the public against them: the more people know about the rules, the more likely they are to be against them. This week the Pew Research Center released a poll showing that 50 percent of those surveyed say the rules will have a negative impact on the country, and 70 percent of those who say they have heard a lot about the rules have a negative view of them.

And if that isn't enough, while it isn't truly related, the negative views of the rules by the public and Congress certainly can't help as a report gets released stating that perhaps Congress was too restrictive when it authorized Low Power FM stations. Since the National Association of Broadcasters is on record of being opposed to any LPFM stations, the negative feeling toward the ownership rules may have an unintended effect: more LPFM stations.

In Related News

If the ownership rules stand, or if they are changed rather than fully reversed, Clear Channel Communications may find itself in a bit of a pickle down in San Diego. The company owns the maximum of eight stations in the market, but through sales and marketing agreements with stations licensed in Mexico -- but geared toward the San Diego market -- actually controls 12. Under the new FCC rules, those agreements would count toward the market cap, and CC would be forced to sell or stop programming four of them.

Too early to tell if anything will really happen, though, as the FCC rules are obviously up in the air, and there would be a two-year period before the new rules would be enforced.

Limbaugh Plays Football

He may have been passed over -- twice -- for a coveted spot on ABC's Monday Night Football, but popular conservative talker Rush Limbaugh -- heard locally weekdays at 9 AM on KFI -- will be joining ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown show beginning September 7th.

The irony should not be lost here: ABC owns ESPN.

Is this a way to groom Limbaugh for the Monday Night Football spot? Considering he is a huge football fan and very knowledgeable about the sport, it wouldn't be a bad idea.


David Alpern wrote in to correct a mention of Texas alternative station KGSR ( I had called it KSGR, which turns out to be a religious station, according to Alpern.

And it appears that KBRT (740 AM) isn't a daytime-only station after all. At least they don't have to be. According to K. M. Richards, referring to the FCC database, KBRT is authorized for 10,000 watts during the day, and 113 watts at night ... enough to cover Catalina Island -- where their transmitter is located -- but not enough to break through San Francisco's KCBS, which blankets most of California, including Los Angeles, at night. After trying night broadcasts for a time, KBRT gave them up, even though they are still authorized to have them.


Copyright © 2003 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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